Two brands of artificial tears eye drops have been recalled after a spate of serious infections across several states resulted in multiple deaths and blindness.
Which brands of eye drops have been recalled so far?
EzriCare Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears and Artificial Eye Ointment, both over-the-counter brands, were recalled from shelves in February after they were linked to at least 68 cases in 16 states of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an extensively drug-resistant bacterial infection.
How many people have died or lost their vision?
Three patients died from the infection, while eight reported vision loss and another four required enucleation, or the surgical removal of the eyeball, according to the Center for Disease Control.
The particular strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa linked to the outbreak had not previously been identified in the US, the agency said.
The CDC noted that infected patients reported using over 10 kinds of artificial tears, or over-the-counter products that lubricate the eyeball and relieve dry eye symptoms.
EzriCare Artificial Tears, which are manufactured in India, was tied to at least 50 of the infections, the agency explained.
Laboratory testing subsequently revealed traces of Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain in the product.
It is not clear whether the strain was also detected in the Delsam Pharma products, which are also manufactured in India.
As of this week, the CDC and the FDA jointly recommended that users cease using both products and ordered clinicians not to recommend or provide them.
“Delsam is a pretty popular brand,” Dr. Alok Patel, ABC News’ medical contributor, said on Thursday.
“That’s why it’s important for people, if they’re getting eye drops…that you are closely following safety guidance.”
Patel also cautioned users against purchasing eye drops abroad and from borrowing friends’ products.
What are the reported symptoms?
Patients who used either the EzriCare of Delsam artificial tears who experience symptoms of an eye infection – including ocular discharge, pain, and blurry vision – are urged to seek immediate medical attention.
Are some of the people affected taking action?
While the CDC warned that more cases are likely to come to light even after the recalls took effect, two patients from Florida are already coming forward to warn against the contaminated products.
Naples Fire Captain Adam Di Sarro told CBS this week that he was blinded in one eye after using the EzriCare artificial tears for several years without issue.
Doctors feared he would lose his left eye entirely until killing the infection with experimental light treatment.
Di Sarro has since filed a lawsuit against both EzriCare and Delsam Pharma, as well as Amazon, which distributed the drops.
The second victim, Cara Oliva, is also suing EzriCare after the drops allegedly infected her left eye and caused a massive corneal ulcer.
The eye ultimately had to be removed, and the grandmother, 72, is now legally blind.